WITH 10 overs left in the day, Sussex went 400 ahead of Lancashire but there was no declaration. It is hard to know whether the motive was fear or greed, but Sussex have had a wet and disappointing start to the season and may have lost the knack of taking chances. They have enough runs to beat Lancashire, but the question is whether they will they have enough time?
Neil Lenham put Sussex in a commanding position with a vigorous century that included 19 fours. He got to 102 with a vicious clout over midwicket and was out leg before to the next ball, but five other Sussex batsman scored quick runs and by the close had added 381 to a first-innings lead of 69.
After his century in the first innings Franklyn Stephenson scored another fifty including three sixes and four fours. Allan Wells accrued a circumspect 61. Martin Speight and Peter Moores batted confidently into the 30s and by the early evening Lancashire were wilting badly.
Lancashire's bowling relies too heavily on Wasim Akram, who is not so much a loose cannon as a faulty missile. In his opening spell he bowled sometimes wildly, sometimes well, but the rot set in for Lancashire in his 10th over.
Until then, Sussex had scored only 11 runs against him with the bat, although eight more had come from no-balls. Sussex were 44 for one, Wasim having already dismissed Bill Athey lbw for seven. They were 113 ahead, but such was Wasim's hostility that he always seemed likely to get a wicket. and the game was finely finally balanced.
That 10th over began innocuously enough with a two to Lenham and another no-ball. Then Lenham clubbed and edged four fours in a row. Having conceded 20, Wasim bowled the last ball off a short run, and returned dolefully to fine leg.
Lenham maximised his good fortune and struck boundaries fiercely and cleanly to all parts of the compass. Wells may or may not have been out when he was 10: Mike Watkinson claimed a catch, but the umpire was not convinced and Wells was not walking. On this day Sussex were reluctant to concede anything.
Lancashire added 22 quick runs at the start of play on this pretty ground on the arboreal outskirts of Horsham. The good news for Sussex was that Paul Jarvis got Lancashire's last wicket when he caught a mishook from Peter Martin and ended a last-wicket stand of 115, which took Lancashire to 286.
Norman Gifford, Sussex's manager, said it was Jarvis's first piece of luck in a wet summer. For the rest of the day Sussex did not need any more luck. They had the quality.